Cameron seems to have stumbled somewhat into the current situation, so far as a mere observer can judge, with nary a sign of strategy to be seen. But as with most positions it is by no means without possibilities: and we can rectify some of the strategic deficiencies.
First, some observations:
- France may be looking for ways to follow through promptly and finish the City. C’est reparti comme en quatorze, eh ? Not so fast, frog: you’ve to defend your own banks and currency first, which’ll keep your plate full. You’ll find that several of your 25 confrères are more concerned with their banks, too – not to mention fending off Mrs Merkel and yourself
- Can’t see the 26 rushing to impose a Tobin Tax on their banks just now – and they actually needed all that money they were planning to reap from the City …
- There is, however, the possibility of a ghastly new flank opening up: Obama (he of the snide ‘British Petroleum’ comments last year) may shortly be scape-goating the City for all his woes, just as Sarkozy and several German politicians are already doing
- Treasonous UK Labour and LibDem politicians will be actively sleeping and treating with the enemy, who will be feeding them ammunition and promises: do as we say, and we guarantee you the next election - and a smooth path to re-admittance to our Top Tables
- But it isn’t as easy as all that either for LibDems (you wanna general election on this issue ?), or indeed for Labour, once the cheap points have been scored. Watch for Miliband being shredded by Cameron in Parliament - and then for Mandelson to be brought back into his inner circle
- If Cameron knows what he wants to achieve in all this (a big ‘if’, I know: let’s pray it is something worthy), in the coming months there will be opportunities for re-engagement on favourable terms with the EU, collectively and with individual member-states - including opportunities to make gains tactical and strategic gains.
However, even to identify these opportunities will require battlefield vision and generalship of Wellingtonian quality. Whom do we have of this calibre ? Cameron himself ? - apparently not (and this is not a criticism, though it is a pity). Hague ? - I don’t see it. Osborne ? - well his admirers reckon so, but isn’t he just a little, err, pre-occupied right now ?
And there’s another problem: the Civil Service is not onside – disgraceful, but true. I have never been particularly impressed by the FCO at the best of times, and they've let Cameron down badly this time. Incompetence ? or treachery ? In any event, many of them will soon be hearing seductive whispers from their European oppos, just like the Labs and Libs.
So: here are some strategic points for Cameron.
1. this is war, and you personally are one of their targets: clear the decks
2. cover the Obama flank as a first priority: and watch Salmond
3. no consolation-prizes for Clegg (and to Hell with Cable and Huhne)
4. some brutally simple 'dividing-lines' for Miliband - the sort that even Sun readers understand
5. get Farage onside (privately)
6. tell Boris that if he is caught making personal capital out of this you will have him thrown to the dogs
7. don’t treat with the Bastards, there’s no need now - they are already wetting themselves with pleasure (and they are mostly head-cases)
8. don’t feel the need to buy off Murdoch just because he comes weaseling up to you again
9. if Osborne really is your best man, take him off Treasury duties and put him on Europe, full-time
10. get some reliable heavyweight mandarins on the team who can do the staff-work and field-work properly, without running an agenda of their own
11. instant dismissal with no pension for any Civil Servant who has unauthorised dealings with European bureaucrats or politicians
12. map out the battlefield, identify your chances - and fall on the French like Wellington on Marmont at Salamanca
By God, that will do ! - for starters, anyway.